Category : Featured

AlmaLaurea conference: “Graduates’ Social (Im)mobility and Territorial Mobility”, May 28, 2015, Italy

The Inter-university Consortium AlmaLaurea, in association with the University of Milano-Bicocca, with the support of the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), is glad to invite you to the Conference:

                                                Graduates’ Social (Im)mobility and Territorial Mobility 

University of Milano Bicocca – Aula Magna 
May 28, 2015

This year’s AlmaLaurea conference has an innovative character compared to the past: a joint presentation of the two surveys, the Graduates’ Profile and the Graduates’ Employment Condition survey.

The joint presentation allows for a comprehensive portrait of Italian graduates and a more detailed exploration of the issue of graduates’ mobility, both social andterritorial. The issue will be deepened by several experts, members of the academic community and institutional representatives, and by the Minister of Education, University and Research, Stefania Giannini.

The Graduates’ Profile, involving this year nearly 250,000 graduates of 64 universities, provides a detailed picture of the main characteristics of the graduates. The Graduates’ Employment Condition survey involves more than 400,000 graduates of 71 universities belonging to the AlmaLaurea Consortium. Thanks to the recent affiliation of the universities previously participating in the “Stella” initiative, the AlmaLaurea Consortium now includes 72 universities, with a coverage of 91% of the national higher education system. The conference therefore also provides an opportunity to celebrate this important milestone for the national university system.

on-line registration


Webinar: “A journey through the assessment and feedback landscape: from principles to effective practice”, May 20, 11.00 CEST

A new webinar “A journey through the assessment and feedback landscape: from principles to effective practice” is due on 20 May, 2015 at 11.00 CEST, as part of the TALOE webinar series “Talks on e-assessment and learning outcomes”.

The lecturer will be Dr. Gill Ferrell, Consultant at Aspire and the E-learning Task Force Leader of EUNIS. She is going to present the outcomes of a 3 year programme of activity to enhance assessment and feedback practice in the UK. The programme involved over 30 universities working directly with around 2,200 staff and more than 6000 students covering all of the main academic disciplines. Dr. Ferrell is going to summarize a landscape review that gave an overview of academic practice and identify the factors that were most effective in delivering real change. She will also highlight the key role that effective feedback plays in assessment for learning. Some freely available tools will also be presented that can be readily applied to help other universities review and enhance their own practice and give an update on ongoing developments and opportunities for European partners to get involved with the activities.

To login into webinar go to

No previous registration is needed, but you can indicate your interest, comment the topic and put questions to the presenters in advance here

The recording of the previous webinars of the series are available on the TALOE website

Much has been said

imagesMuch has been said about MOOCs in terms of technology. At the same time, surprisingly, MOOCs are quickly disappearing from the Gartner hype curve. But are MOOCs a technology? Why such a rapid disappearance?

I have a very simple explanation: MOOCs are a means to learn and to acquire knowledge through already mature technologies but they are not a technology by themselves, thus no reason to follow the hype curve. And if they do, it will be at the pace of the pedagogy, i.e. a very slow pace, as usually do all transformations of human societies. The tsunami is yet to come.

So what did the MOOCs brought in terms of technology?

Since the beginning of this century, I have been using four different well-known Learning Management Systems and I can testify that, up to now, the new ones, being developed for MOOCs, did not bring much as novelties for pedagogy. Pair assessment was quite an exception and the development of this new tool was mainly motivated by the fact that it was unrealistic for the teachers to review hundreds and thousands of copies. The LMS communities reacted quickly and integrated this tool in their latest edition. And then, teachers started to imagine how to use it and how to make it part of their blended pedagogy, not to let the students do their job, but to introduce a new form of participation and collaboration between them. At the same time, the appearance of MOOCs had the effect of amplifying the collaborative and social use of conventional platforms.

This is rather funny because the social dimension of MOOC platforms was presented as the main improvement over the previous generation of platforms, but in reality there was nothing new! MOOCs are using the good old forums, which already existed in Moodle, Claroline, Sakai, WebCT (I quote the platforms I know) and many others tools, which existed in these platforms, were ignored, such as chats, for instance. In the past the forums had little success. I remember a WebCT user conference, around 2005, in Barcelona, ​​where many of us complained about our empty forums. Only those responsible for distance education could boast genuine exchanges. The reason for the success of forums, nowadays in the MOOCs, is the distance between the participants and the desire to share in a community. I doubt that they are much successful in SPOCs, i.e. in blended learning, because students have many opportunities to meet and exchange on the campus. I would be very pleased to receive more information about this. Many teachers supplement their MOOCs with Facebook groups, without forgetting the Google+ Hangouts and other systems to distribute live video. There is therefore an obvious lack of social tools in the MOOC platforms today. This is not a criticism. The development of a platform, with all its richness and its pedagogic nuances, is much trickier than the developers think: so it takes time.

The only novelty of modern platforms is their ability to hold a large number of students simultaneously. Which is a good reason to continue to use the old education platforms, which now are implemented in most universities and schools, when one want to create a SPOC for blended learning.

The MOOC platforms are still in their infancy.

A learning platform is a set of digital tools … used for learning and teaching, which implies that these tools are designed with an underlying vision of a pedagogy. Thus, using a platform implies to join this vision. Teaching cannot be reduced to a singular approach because there is not a single method for teaching or learning; pedagogies are diverse. A given LMS tries to answer, as well as possible, to the expectations of its developers. Designers translate their vision in their tools. I remember a very interesting exchange, at EUNIS 2005, in Manchester, between those responsible for Moodle and Sakai. After a passionate debate, they came to the conclusion that Moodle is organized around a fairly constructivist pedagogical vision and imposes a fairly well defined pedagogical approach. Sakai is much more liberal and rather emphasizes the collaborative aspects. For instance Moodle has several tools for building questionnaires, each thought with a clear different vision on how to build an assessment; Sakai has a unique tool, which mixes all approaches. Using a given platform, the teacher must accommodate his/her vision with the underlying vision of the platform! This is not always easy and, in a given university, not everybody will agree on a single approach and a single platform cannot please everybody. When the vision is strict, some teachers may complain that they are confined but the use of the platform is simpler: the number of choices being limited avoids exploring a number of possibilities. When the vision is more liberal, the use of the LMS is more difficult because teachers must make a choice among numerous features. From the educational point of view there is therefore no ideal platform. Each LMS offers its own vision, which is deeply carved in its tools and services. It always irritates me when I read reports, comparing platforms, mainly as a catalog of existing or non-existing services and little or nothing is said about the versatility in their use, the options to get out of a scheme and about the pedagogical approaches. Assessing the underlying pedagogy is the very difficult because a good test would be to design several courses, with different teachers, and to use them with students in the different platforms. So I refute these reports, which consist mainly of tables checking the existence of tools and services, like for ordinary software. And a LMS is not ordinary software!

A good LMS would be like a bouquet of flowers: the teacher would assemble services like choosing colors, shapes and fragrances. He would no longer be forced to a limited set of services strongly linked to only one platform and would be able to assemble the ones of his/her choice: a mixture of Moodle, Sakai, Claroline Connect, edX and many others. This is a dream today but may become a reality if the developers want to. Standards, such as LTI, define interfaces that allow various tools to communicate. The concept of virtual machines, in the cloud, allows designing the platform of the future as a set of virtual servers, each allocated to a single function, dialoguing with all the others, and not as a single bundle as today. Building a LMS will be reduced to interconnecting the servers of his choice.

We must pay attention and encourage open source consortia as Apereo trying to put under one single roof various initiatives, advocating complementarity rather than competition. The true open platform of the future will be a learning platform made of different brands and names.

The expert teacher will compose his/her bouquet; the non-expert will choose among bouquets already prepared by specialists. It means that, in universities, we must recruit or train new professionals, both pedagogical designers, computer scientists and also with an experience of teaching, who will be responsible for building bouquets on demand according to the professors and students expectations. This will allow all kinds of pedagogy, a mixture of c-MOOC and x-MOOC.

To summarize, what shall we remember about the impact of technology on MOOC educational platforms? It is not their ability to hold the load of thousands of learners. It is the possibility, very soon, to customize them according to the desiderata of the end users, i.e. the teachers and the students. But as this customization will be too complex for most teachers, it will be necessary for them to work with other people, specialists in technology and pedagogy. Their courses will become a group project!

Teaching will be less and less the isolated act of a single teacher in front of his students and sole master of the place. This is becoming the project of an entire team, as it is already the case for the MOOCs. It is maybe one of the most important features of the MOOC revolution and we must be prepared.

CRIS/IR survey in Europe and the Membership Meeting, Paris 11-12 May, 2015 at AMUE

Dear colleagues,

Following the Partnership Agreement signed in 2014 with euroCRIS, the European Organisation for Research Information, we are pleased to announce the launch of the first joint initiative: a comprehensive survey aiming to collect as much data as possible on the information systems currently in use to support the Research Area.

To have a clear and complete picture of the role of technology in Higher Education Institutions, all aspects require in-depth analysis. The Research Area is a crucial one for Universities and Research Centers and it is becoming increasingly important thanks to the diffusion of both Repositories and CRIS (Crurrent Research Information Systems).

Both the CRIS and repository communities have grown remarkably during these last few years, the systems’ functionalities have been extended and their role within the Institutions is changing due to new policies on Open Access, National Assessments and Research Fundings. As a result of this still ongoing evolution, we have now CRISs acting as repositories, repositories with extended data models, a wide range of interoperability features between co-existing CRISs and repositories and even a new species in the ecosystem that claims to be both a repository and a CRIS.

The scope of this initiative it is to collect information on technological solutions that support Research in order to analyse their relations with the other systems used within Higher Education Institutions: how they interoperate, which data and metadata are available and how they can be used.

 A set of questions has been put together to collect a detail account of the running CRIS/Repositories systems at European institutions and made available online via a LimeSurvey platform.

 The survey can be found at this link:

 It will remain open for two months until the end of May and should not take longer than 15-20 minutes to complete.

After collecting such information, ERAI (the EUNIS Research and Analysis Initiative) will work with euroCRIS in order to analyse the results and create comparative studies and find valuable use cases and best practice to share with the Community.

 The preliminary results will be presented at the forthcoming euroCRIS membership meeting in Paris next May and a presentation of its full outcome will be delivered next June at the EUNIS annual Congress in Dundee.

To remind: euroCRIS Membership Meeting will be held in Paris, 11-12 May, 2015 at AMUE. More information here

 Thanks in advance for your collaboration.